Julie Bellemare relates the imperial patronage of cloisonné objects for religious and secular purposes in eighteenth-century China to an increased taste for colorful and dazzling surfaces. She uses the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu and Alfred Gell to unpack the significance of this technical enchantment, and to clarify and complicate questions of taste, class, and ethnic identity in the Chinese production and consumption of cloisonné. Bellemare argues that the non-Chinese origins of the medium made it adaptable to the evolving needs of display and an ideal canvas for imperial decoration.
Rachel McBride Lindsey discusses the significance of photography in the study of religion and, particularly, how photographs were “made sense of” as an emerging technology in the nineteenth century. In reviewing the meaning of photos in American religion, she suggests that these images are not mere “things” but enable an entirely new way of engaging religious practices and doctrines.
In this theoretically rich piece, Jean-Pierre Warnier discusses the entanglement of ‘things’ and their representations.In most religious traditions, this topic plays an important historical role in determining how devotees respond to imagery and materiality, especially as these media convey or embody their most important religious concepts.Cycles of iconophilia and iconoclasm relating to this issue form a central thread in the Abrahamic faiths, for instance.Warnier insists that scholars of religion need to be more circumspect regarding the ‘cognitive gap’ that exists between the praxeological ‘things’ of a religious tradition and the representations of those things.